It may not be a connection that you’ve made before, but there are many similarities between operating a business and raising children. In both cases, effective communication, patience, and learning from mistakes are all part of the package. When you start and grow a business and a child from a young age, you are proud to see them develop. But to give both the opportunity to grow and thrive, you need to be nurturing and supportive without being oppressive. Whether you’re trying to start a business, raise a child, or both, here are some striking similarities between the two.
In running a business and raising children, growing pains are inevitable. According to The Ascent, you’re going to have to stay flexible with whatever your frustrations are at the moment. As children grow, they may develop physical problems like achy joints and bone pain. This pain can keep them from performing at their best, and it can also be difficult for you to watch them struggle.
In a business, growing pains have a similarly negative effect. A lack of direction, unproductive meetings, and not having enough quality managers can all impede business growth. This is especially true at the beginning of a business’s lifetime when there is a lot of turmoil and commotion as things get sorted out. While these pains may be annoying as you’re working through them, it’s best to address them and to fix the underlying issue before it becomes an insurmountable problem. Just as children eventually outgrow growing pains as they mature, businesses can too.
There Will Be Good Times and Bad Times
Highs and lows are a fact of life. And in both child-rearing and starting a business, there are times that are good and others that make you feel like giving up. Having a child throw a temper tantrum, arguing with your child, and increasing tensions about how to raise a child with a spouse are common challenges in parenting.
With a business, you might find that a meeting gets out of hand, that there are tensions and bad dynamics between employees, and that there are times when you’re not sure what the future holds.
But with both kids and business, there are also triumphs that make you keep going when times are tough. Seeing a child learn to walk, complete the first day of school, and win an award are moments that make you proud. Similarly, attracting your first customers, turning a profit, and seeing your business grow are other major accomplishments. Staying positive during the difficult times makes it easier to weather the storms and to know that there will be good times ahead.
Communication is Key
As children grow, they try to learn to understand what you want. Most of the time, they are eager to please and will watch you closely for guidance about how to do their best. They will look to you for support and reassurance when they are frightened or uncertain. According to Perpetual Fostering, you will need to constantly switch the role of speaker and listener so as to create good communication.
Similarly, employees in a forming company are vulnerable and in need of some direction about what they should do to ensure that the business succeeds. Without proper communication, the company’s performance can suffer. In the case of parenting, a lack of clear communication can cause unruly behavior and tension. Effective communication is essential for teaching children the difference between right and wrong. It is also critical for your employees to help reach the company’s goals.
Flexibility is Essential
Both parents and business owners agree that when it comes to raising children and starting a business, things happen that are beyond your control. A child will get sick or fall and get hurt. A business might encounter legal issues or suddenly hit a slump. While it’s true that you can’t normally plan for these problems, you can at least learn how to cope with them and how to move past the inconveniences. Parents of small children often reflect that it is impossible to try to plan every detail when a child arrives. Learning to go with the flow and adapt to unforeseen situations is the only way to work through difficult times. This is going to be needed in terms of how fast the markets and industries change. For example, businesses upon learning that consumers prefer texting six times more than other means of communication, they began to implement customer strategies that align with these preferences. Similarly, you’ll drive yourself nuts and your employees, too, if you try to manage business growth with an iron fist.
Learn to Take the Backseat
Sometimes, as a parent and and as a business owner, you may be tempted to jump into the ring and call all the shots. You might think that you know best and that without your oversight, things will fall apart. However, there is a great freedom in letting go and learning to watch both children and businesses grow naturally on their own. According to Entrepreneur, there are plenty of ways you can take a breather, and be patient in watch a business grow. There will inevitably be frightening and tense moments in both situations. Learning to put some faith in both a child’s and a business’s ability to find its own way will reduce your level of stress and anxiety, and it will make both a child and a business stronger and more self-sufficient in the long run.
As a parent, you outsource all the time. You outsource to stores for supplies like food and clothing instead of making or growing these things yourself. You outsource to day care centers and babysitters when you can’t be present. And you may outsource to schools to give your child an education rather than making up your own curriculum. Business is much the same. You simply can’t supply everything that your business needs in-house. In some cases that might mean hiring white-label services to handle some of your clients, speaking with a business coach to streamline your processes, or hiring a corporate trainer to make your employees more effective. And like grocery shopping or choosing what school your child should attend, there’s an enormous variety of outsourcing options. Do your research and trust your gut, because you know your business best.
Trust Your Support Network
When it comes to being a parent and running a business, it is very hard, if not impossible, to go it alone. In both situations, you might think that you know best and that you need to control everything that happens. You might question whether your mother-in-law or your first babysitter is up to the challenge of managing your child when you’re not there. Similarly, you might wonder whether your employees can keep things going when you can’t be present. Learning to let your fears and doubts go and to trust your team is emotionally rewarding. It will also preserve your energy and sanity, which is essential to avoid burn-out and failure in the long run.
Starting a family and starting a business are both exciting life experiences. With the right attitude, you’ll find success in doing both, possibly even at the same time! Learning to raise children and to grow a business requires a fine balance between oversight and letting go of the wheel. Both children and businesses need nurturing and support, initially, but they also need to learn to thrive on their own. Trusting others to help you out along the way and having flexibility rather than a rigid mindset are key to success in both situations. While there will certainly be challenges along the way, seeing both your child and your company turn into independent and successful beings is worth the wait, as long as you plan it well.